Saturday, November 19, 2011


"This is the day that the Lord has made let us rejoice and be glad in it." (Psalm 118.24) Each day has it's things to be thankful for. Of course, Thanksgiving is not taking place in every part of the world today. In fact Canada celebrated their Thanksgiving last month and it is just a regular work day here in China. Some times it's hard to celebrate your national holiday while everyone else around you is just going about life. But we are extremely grateful for dear friends to come together with and share a tremendous meal.  In fact, we had two such opportunities this year.  A glorious five family feast complete with regional southern recipe contributions from all and then a special turkey meal at a small expat and Chinese run restaurant nearby. It was such fun to give our dear Chinese friends their first taste of turkey.  My blessings are too many to count... good friends, health, a safe warm place to lay my head, a loving family, and a husband and three sons who bring more joy to my life than my words can express.  This Thanksgiving my predominant feeling has been a deep gratefulness to have this last year as a family altogether here in China. Next Thanksgiving will find us with two sons in college and settled in some cozy southwest corner of Virginia. Hope this day is delightful for you, with many reasons small and large for giving thanks.

Linking to Jenny Matlock on her "Thankful Thursday."

Do you know what this is?

 I'm actually not sure myself...

  We had it at a friend's house last week and really enjoyed it.

 So we decided to give it a try...

 with rice wine vinegar like previously.

 My son says it tastes like cold slaw.  Can anyone out there tell me what it is?  And would it lose something in the translation.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Learning Chinese Language Like a Child

For much longer than I'd like to admit, I have been feeling dissatisfied with my Chinese language ability.  I can communicate on a surface level and get most things accomplished, but there is so much more that I want to say.  So after learning about the Growing Participator Approach or GPA (not to be confused with grade point average) method of language learning, developed by sociolinguist Greg Thomson; I decided to start again from the beginning.  The GPA method strongly takes into account the way language develops in childhood.  Infants listen for a long time, storing up a well of information; and then begin to speak. Our vocabulary or language reserve can be demonstrated through the illustration of an iceberg.  Everything visible above the water, the small tip, represents the language we have ready at hand and are very comfortable using.  As you get deeper and broader into the iceberg, your ability to use the words is considerably less; though you may still recognize a word as one you've heard before. At the base you find words that you've had some contact with, but they will need much more interaction before they will begin to rise closer to the surface.

There are an assortment of activities which take place in a learning session of GPA.  All are intended to help the learner interact with new vocabulary in numerous ways.  But to start out, the learner ONLY LISTENS. Listening may require a physical response. Many people are familiar with the TPR (Total Physical Response) method of teaching.  This is one kind of activity in GPA.  So on any given morning you may visit my home and find me placing plastic animals in or on play dishes; or hopping across the dining room; or touching my head, shoulders, knees, and toes. Which can be a bit humbling for a forty-ish mother of teenage boys. But I must admit, I am a bit fascinated by this whole process and am keeping my sense of humor.

This has already gone on far longer than I intended, but I did want to mention one other guiding principle of GPA; and that is that language takes place within culture and in community (not apart from them). We all have our own stories and use our words in unique ways to communicate them.  For example, if I ran in to you at about noon time in the states, I may say, "Hi. How are you?" You may reply, "Fine," with neither of us thinking of this conversation as more than a greeting. Here in China, at the same time of day, I wouldn't say, "Hi." I would ask, "Have you eaten?"

Words in different cultures may not carry the same meanings and objects may not as well.  It wouldn't be shocking for me to be out for a stroll on a pleasant evening and run into a neighbor doing the same in his or her pajamas. Last time I checked this wasn't common practice in the states. But a nice set of pajamas are like comfort clothes here; the kind you wear around the house on a Saturday afternoon or out for a walk with your spouse. Also umbrellas are commonly used here as protection from the sun.  I, myself, like to carry one for this reason.  We like to say, "Not bad.... Just different," when we encounter aspects of another culture that seem strange to us.

Anyway, all this long discourse was really just an attempt to follow up on some thoughts I had for Alphabet Thursday.... C is for Communication, Culture, and learning Chinese like a Child. You can visit Jenny Matlock, read the creative posts there, and add your own too.

Isn't the first photo wonderful?! It was taken by Nadja von Massow (nadworks) and can be found here.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

B is for (my) Boys in "Beauty and the Beast"

As a Peasant

As Lumiere

Guy in the Tavern

Lumiere moonlighting as a Peasant

"Be Our Guest" (Note the Dancing Knife)


Cast Photo

I am linking to Jenny Matlock's wonderful Alphabet Thursday.  Please check out the other brilliant B posts.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Around Again

I noticed from my side column that some friends from Alphabet Thursday are at it again.  Starting with the letter "A" for the fourth time around.  Wow.  I think I was a first round participant. Time is flying by.


Life circles and cycles around and around. Makes me think of the old sweet song "Sentimental Lady" by Bob Welch.

Sentimental gentle wind
Blowing through my life again
Sentimental lady
Gentle one
(all I need)
Sentimental gentle wind
Blowing through my life again
Sentimental lady
Gentle one

I guess I am feeling sentimental tonight.  We've just returned home after watching our two youngest boys perform in the musical "Beauty and the Beast." Our oldest, after performing in seven seasons of theatrics, stayed in; preferring to watch the Saturday, closing night show with his girlfriend.

The air has a nip again. The days are getting shorter again.  We left the brightness and energy of the theater and ventured into the enveloping muffled darkness of the night.  Life is sweet and sad all at the same time as it circles around and around again.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

My last post was "How Long Has It Been...."

How long has it been since I started this lovely crochet pattern? It's called "Journey Scarf" and was created by Kim Guzman.  Journey Scarf for certain... if you click the link you will see that it has been over 18mos since I started this project and that there have been some u-turns and route changes along the way.  I decided the baby yarn I was using was too bright and tiny and so switched to the denim and ivory colored cotton yarn I found on sale at Walmart (in the states).  I also decided to make a shell stitch doggy scarf for my girlfriend's intelligent and much beloved Shih Tzu.  Their photo is included below. I hope she likes them!

"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step" -Lao Tzu


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